Monday, May 24, 2010

Gender and Fruit Communication, Part 2

We were stuck in Rogers, Arkansas for a LONG FRIGGIN' time back in the fall. I won't go into the reasons here, and you can't make me. Anyway, that's when my cell died. As in, one day it was okay and the next day it had digital Alzheimer's -- wasn't sure who it was, where it was, or why it was. Then it wasn't. I've known people with Alzheimer's -- I know the symptoms.
I figured it was the battery, so I trotted down to a nearby Verizon store to get a new one. Turned out that replacing the battery would have been like doing a heart transplant on a dead guy. Something straight out of Grey's Anatomy, where the docs have their scrubs in a bunch about whether the transplant might give the dead guy enough juice to make it back from the netherworld in time for one profound statement. Well, not my cell. The diagnosis was terminal and the docs thought that a new battery might -- might, mind you -- give the cell enough juice to speak its final words; in this case, that would be getting my contact list and maybe a few photos transferred to a new cell. If it worked. The prognosis was not good, there was no hope for life support. It was a one-shot deal.
"Give it a try," I said, valiantly. So a cabal of salespeople and techs went to work. And, just like in Grey's Anatomy, they pulled it off. With a wheezing death rattle, my cell gave up my contact list and a few photos. Then it was gone, destined to be recycled back into the electronic earth from whence it came.
Now what to do? Being the 21st century guy that I am, I am tethered to my cell. Even if I decide not to carry it around, nobody but me knows that and I get calls and more calls. And people feel it's their right to expect me to respond immediately, or sooner, so if I have "missed" (i.e., ignored) their calls I am, apparently, obligated to return their calls as soon as possible. Or sooner. Evidently, then, I had to get a new cell.
That's where gender and fruit came into play.
First, as to fruit . . . my daughter has a blackberry. I know lots of folks with blackberries. So do you. The REALLY cool people, of course, have iPhones, but the next coolest people have blackberries. The rest of us have something else. Doesn't matter what, because it's not an iphone and it's not a blackberry. I won't go into iPhones here, because they are so cool that they are actually specialized. One must be a Mac geek and use a particular cell service provider to effectively use an iPhone. Yes, I'm typing this on my MacBook, but I'm not cool enough to use the right service provider, so that's that. (By the way, am I going to start seeing people walking around downtown Santa Fe holding their new iPads up to their ears, talking to their offices or spouses? I don't think I can handle that.)
Back to blackberries. I actually get e-mail messages from people that have little notes at the bottom that say the messages were sent from blackberries. If we had a data plan with our cells, I could do the same thing from my cell, but it wouldn't be cool because it wouldn't come from a blackberry. I could have a blueberry or a strawberry or a mango, but I wouldn't be cool, because it's not a blackberry.
My son is quick to point out that blackberry is really Blackberry, a brand name, and that what I'm wondering about actually has to do with corporate identities, brand recognition, and superior marketing strategies. Yeah, I got that. But why blackberry? Why not blueberry or strawberry or mango? Or peach. I love peaches. I'd probably buy a phone named peach. Or melons. I really love melons. I'd buy a cantaloupe phone any day. Of course, melons aren't actually fruit, so perhaps the point is moot. Still . . . Why the heck is it so cool to have a phone named after a fruit? And not really a very auspicious fruit at that. What can you do with blackberries, except make jams and pies? Oh, and call people. Wait! I can do that on my non-fruit cell. I can even do that on -- a gasp fills the room -- our land-line telephone.
I'll tell you what I can't do on my non-fruit cell, or my land-line phone: I can't drop it in my briefcase (I don't carry a purse, but I know someone who does and has the following problem with her blackberry, frequently) and have it call someone, anyone, randomly, just because it's tiny, miniscule, buttons get pushed accidentally. The recipient, then, gets to scream and holler to try to get the attention of the fruit-phone owner to let him/her know that s/he is racking up billable minutes talking to a billfold or a pair of sunglasses or a bottle of aspirin at the bottom of the purse or briefcase (or spare change in a pocket).
Anyway, when my old cell (I had a Razor, which was really cool in its day, but somehow it didn't make me cool enough) gave up the ghost, commending its spirit to the Father, the cabal of salespeople and techs at the Verizon store immediately shifted into a whole new mode. I'm pretty sure I heard the store manager whisper, "It's dead. Now go sell him a new one." No time for mourning or last rites. Time to make a sale. Sorta like having your spouse die and immediately getting a call from eHarmony.
I first noticed that the tech, who was a young male, went to the back room, presumably to tech on something else, perhaps a patient that hadn't passed yet. Next I noticed that two young women came to help me, in my grief, select a replacement. After all, I had to be re-tethered to some portable communicative device. This is where gender came into play.
On principle and for practicality's sake, NO WAY was I going to get a fruit phone. Unless they had a cantaloupe or peach, which they didn't. So that was out, although the young women who were double-teaming me certainly tried. Realizing, though, that fruit phones were out, they then played on my fragile male ego. Surely I didn't want just another plain, old-school ("old" meaning older than last summer), push-button cell. Right? If I'm going to be a 21st century guy (see paragraph 4, above), I need a smart phone. No, seriously, I NEED a smart phone. I NEED a phone that has a touch screen and apps and a pop-out keyboard for REAL texting, not that old-school, hold-it-in-one-hand-and-text-with-one-thumb technique but modern, just-like-the-teenagers-do-it, hold-it-in-two-hands-and-text-with-both-thumbs texting. I NEED a phone that not only takes photos but takes them in hi-res and has options for lighting and flash. I NEED a phone that, when (not if) I decide to get a data plan, can surf the internet and do e-mailing. And get maps, to replace my beloved Garmin. Aaaggghhh.
Briefly, we returned to the blackberry stand, where I was shown fruit phones that meet those criteria. Again, though, not wanting a fruit phone, we moved on to other options. Did I prefer a cell without the QWERTY keyboard (not a smart as those with one, apparently; sort of a mid-IQ phone)? Did I prefer one that hinged open to reveal the full-size keyboard ("full-size," in this case, meaning about 2.5 inches long), or one that slid open to reveal the keyboard (in which case the keyboard was about the same size as those on a fruit phone, maybe 1.5 inches long, max)? Would I need a charger cord for the truck (of course)? Oh, I would need a plastic cover for cell, along with clear films to cover the screen lest it get scratched and ruin my touch-screen experience.
By the time I left the store, I was reeling. I had a new smart phone with home charger, a charger for the truck, covers and films, and a receipt for the rebate I would get that would help with the cost of the cell. I managed to get out without a data plan, since Ginger's cell is way too old-school for that and it seemed presumptuous to get a plan just for my cell. I was due a new cell anyway and could have gotten a free one, but the free ones aren't smart.
I'm not sure I am, either. I like my cell, mind you, and I have discovered that, with the plastic cover on it, it almost looks -- from a distance -- like an iPhone, so sometimes I look cool using it, as long as I'm not too close to other people. But I got double-teamed by two young women; I think maybe my common sense was overshot by my ego. And I'm pretty sure that I'm not as smart as the phone. I have a nagging suspicion that it is capable of things that I don't understand. If it's true that we typically only use about 10% of our brain's capacity, and if, as I suspect, I'm only using about 10% of my cell's capacity, then I'm pretty sure that my smart phone could take over the world, or at least New Mexico, and I might not even realize it until I found myself taking orders from my cell.
Uh oh -- gotta run. My cell's ringing.

1 comment:

  1. Jeff, don't worry. Your cell phone is not actually smart, at least not in the "intelligent" sense of the word. It may look quite smart paired with your sleek new briefcase and matching shoes, but it is not intelligent. Your phone - as of yet - has no capacity for creative, independent thought, and it is most certainly incapable of intentional humor. Despite my disappointment that yet another old-school phone user has passed on, I still have to credit you with being at least slightly smarter than your phone; this blog-post did, after all, have me guffawing at top volume. We’ll see if I’m any more successful this week when I buy my new computer – it will be a mac.